Dodgers vs. Cubs MLB Odds & Picks: Expect Plenty Of Runs at Wrigley Field (Monday, May 3)

Dodgers vs. Cubs MLB Odds & Picks: Expect Plenty Of Runs at Wrigley Field (Monday, May 3) article feature image
Credit:

Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler.

  • A pair of struggling National League powers open a series on Monday night when the Cubs host the Dodgers.
  • Los Angeles sends Walker Buehler to the mound, hoping one of their top pitchers can help it win for only the fourth time in its last 11 tries.
  • Tanner McGrath explains below why he's expecting the offenses to shine in the series opener.

Editor’s note: This game has been postponed due to inclement weather in Chicago. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Tuesday.

Dodgers vs. Cubs Odds

Dodgers Odds -200
Cubs Odds +175
Over/Under 8.5
Time 7:40 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Monday afternoon and via BetMGM.

Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are entering this series after losing their previous ones. Plus, neither are playing well over the past few weeks, as the Cubs are in last place in their division while the Dodgers are, surprisingly, trailing in theirs as well.

I lean toward Los Angeles in Monday’s opener, but don’t believe the current line provides value. Therefore, I’m looking to make a play on the total instead.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

While they lost the series over the weekend, the Dodgers finished strong Sunday with a 16-4 thrashing of the Brewers in the final game.

Los Angeles, which is an excellent team, is still favored to win the World Series. However, the Dodgers haven’t been playing like a championship team recently. They’re just 3-7 in their last 10 games, trailing the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West.

However, they still have, by far, the best run differential in the league (+45) and that tends to be the best indicator of future success. Moreover, they’ve struggled mightily with injuries, specifically with Cody Bellinger being out since their April 5 game.

So, it’s not all gloom-and-bloom for Los Angeles. However, the usually dominant offense has been stagnant in recent weeks, as it ranks outside the top half of baseball in OPS (.687), wOBA (.307) and wRC+ (96) overall.

The pitching staff, including both starters and relievers, has posted average or above-average numbers. Luckily, the Dodgers have a sizzling pitcher on the mound in this contest.

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Starting Pitcher: Walker Buehler (RHP)

Buehler was primed for a huge season this year. For the most part, he’s lived up to the expectation. He has made five starts and has gone at least six innings in all of them.

Meanwhile, Buehler has posted a 3.16 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 0.96 WHIP, which are some of the best numbers of his career. However, the most impressive thing about Buehler’s early season is that he’s struck out 31 batters and only walked two over his 36 2/3 innings of work.

Unfortunately, he’s coming off a start where he allowed five runs to the Cincinnati Reds in a 6-5 loss. He struck out 10 and walked just one, but he allowed seven timely hits in defeat.

I think Buehler is due for more regression. His current strikeout rate (25.4%) would be the lowest of his career, while his current strand rate (78.7%) would be the highest of his career. All in all, his xERA of 4.48 is more than a point higher than his regular ERA this season.

His fastball has lost a tick of velocity, down from 97.8 mph last season to 95.2 mph this season. As  a result, the exit velocity on his fastball has risen from 89.3 mph last season to 93.1 mph this season.

For a heavy fastball pitcher, that could spell issues in the future.

Chicago Cubs

Same as the Dodgers, the Cubs are just 3-7 in their last 10 games.

Unlike the Dodgers, though, the Cubs boast a run differential of -14 and are last in the NL Central. At 12-16, they have a worse record than the Pirates.

However, it’s not due to the lack of offense. Chicago’s lineup has been cooking in recent weeks, and Kris Bryant hasn’t played this well since his MVP season.

Bryant’s slashing .323/.405/.708 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs this season. Moreover, he’s among the top 10 players in wOBA (.463) and OPS (1.114). Over his last five games, Bryant is batting .450 with an OBP of .522 and has had six extra-base hits, including three home runs.

Unfortunately, the’ pitching staff has been a dumpster fire. Over the past 14 days, the starters have posted a 6.36 FIP (29th in MLB) and the relievers have notched a 4.24 FIP, which is 16th in baseball.

Today’s Starter: Kyle Hendricks (RHP)

Hendricks is having the worst start to a season of his career. He has posted a 7.54 ERA, 8.32 FIP and 1.76 WHIP through his first five starts. Plus, the advanced metrics suggest he hasn’t been unlucky — he’s just been bad.

For example: Hendricks ranks in the bottom five percent of pitchers in:

  • Barrel percentage (15.6%)
  • Expected batting average (.329)
  • Expected slugging percentage (.630)
  • Expected weighted on base percentage (.423)
  • Expected ERA (7.51)

Hendrick’s softball four-pitch mix, headlined by a sinker that only travels 86 mph, has traditionally been great at forcing weak contact. However, that hasn’t been the case this season, as his average exit velocity (89.7 mph) would be the highest of his career while his ground ball rate (31.6%) would be the lowest.

In addition to allowing harder contact, Hendricks currently boasts the highest walk rate of his career (3.18 BB/9), while stranding an unsustainable number of baserunners at 82.1% percent.

We’ll see if Hendricks can bounce back in this spot, but it seems unlikely.

Dodgers-Cubs Pick

For their periods of struggle , both these teams have above-average lineups that feature star hitters. They can hit and score runs at high rates.

This is a good spot for the offenses as well. The Dodgers are third in road runs per game (5.10), while Cubs are seventh in home runs per game (5.27) this season.

Meanwhile, I have reason to believe Buehler will see some regression against a Cubs’ lineup that has been better in recent weeks. And I expect Hendricks will still continue to struggle mightily against a Dodgers’ batting order that crushes right-handed pitching.

Additionally, the Action PRO report is tracking sharp money coming in on the over, with that total receiving just 48% of the tickets but 89% of the money. That might be due to the fact the Dodgers are 8-2 to the over in their last 10 games, and  the Cubs are 6-4 to the over as well.

I have a slight lean on the Dodgers, but not enough to play them as such a heavy favorite. However, I think Los Angeles will win or lose in a high-scoring affair, and so I played the total going over 8.5 runs on PointsBet at -112 odds.

Pick: Total Over 8.5 (-112) | Play to -115

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